West Ham Dumps Manchester United from the Carabao Cup
Manuel Lanzini’s opening goal consigns Manchester United to Old Trafford’s defeat as another chance to secure a trophy slips off Solskjaer’s hands.
As the West Ham players celebrated in one corner of Old Trafford, Mark Noble emerged from the pack and blew their fans a big kiss. Thereafter, he lapped up the applause for as long as he could and then turned to hug his teammates one by one.
Who can blame him?
Only three days earlier, Noble had been the fall guy. The substitute was summoned off the bench at the London Stadium to take an injury-time penalty that was saved by David de Gea after Jesse Lingard scored what proved to be the winning goal for Man United.
Subsequently, Wednesday night at Old Trafford brought redemption. This could well be Noble’s last appearance here before he hangs up his boots next summer after 18 years with the Hammers.
The 34-year-old played like a man determined to make amends as he produced a captain’s performance on his first start since April to help his team secure a fourth-round tie against Manchester United.
Noble was little fortunate not to give away a penalty when he pulled Lingard down early on – though no luckier than United skipper Nemanja Vidic who escaped punishment for a knee to the groin of Vladimir Coufal in the second half – and could have had a goal when he was denied one-on-one by Dean Henderson at the end.
West Ham was ahead within nine minutes after a lively start that saw early chances fall to Bowen and Alex Kral.
Ryan Fredericks appeared to be boxed in on the right flank but managed to wriggle between Alex Telles and Jadon Sancho on his way to the bye-line. Fredericks pulled the ball back, even though it led to an injury that saw him withdrawn shortly afterward, and Manuel Lanzini swept a shot beyond Henderson.
United absorbed the early blow and grew into the game. Unfortunately, they lacked a cutting edge upfront and had that penalty appeal turned down for Noble’s challenge on Lingard.
Juan Mata rattled the bar from a difficult angle, Anthony Martial’s wayward finish from close-range betrayed his lack of confidence at the moment, and Alphonse Areola turned away a stinging 25-yard effort from Lingard before the end of an entertaining first half.
After the break, it was a similar story. Mata clipped in a pass to Sancho who hooked over before substitute Mason Greenwood was sent through by Donny van de Beek but couldn’t beat Areola.
Solskjaer sent on Bruno Fernandes for the latter stages but it was West Ham who went closest to another goal when Andriy Yarmolenko hit the post.
So, if Solskjaer really does need to deliver a trophy this season to preserve his future as United manager, he can already rule out the Carabao Cup.